Drat, I thought we were done with these guys for the year. Usually once May rolls by, the bears have moved on to higher areas where the risk of human contact is lower. And I had hoped that with most of our food scraps going into the worm bin and the chicken corral, that there would be little in the main compost heap to attract bears. I will have to remind my other family members more often about not using the main compost except as a last resort. And this is just another reason to stop buying oranges. (Neither chickens nor worms will eat citrus peel.)

Last night Sophie was sleeping in a tent just to the left of the camera frame. Fortunately this bear seems skittish and not habituated to human contact. I expect it would have steered very clear of her. It ran off as soon as it heard my camera shutter.

Unfortunately it also seems to have made an attempt (failed, thankfully) to break into the chicken coop. The window was torn partly off its hinges, though one hinge held and the chicken wire screen inside would have provided an additional barrier. I’ve nailed the window shut for now.

Wish I’d had the zoom lens handy. You would have thought me very brave and/or very foolhardy with a zoomed in shot, but alas, the camera bag was still inside the minvan from last night’s parent-kid soccer game and party. Bears are certainly a fact of life around here, and we get used to them to a certain extent. They’re one reason we’ve wanted to have a dog around. I think we’ll need to get the air rifle out again this year. A pellet at 20 metres is enough to give a bear an annoying sting. With young bears especially it’s helpful if they have a few negative experiences with people and garbage. They’re smart, and they do learn to associate the two, so their behaviour won’t tend to become problematic. This bear looks like a 3- or 4-year-old. Not its first summer away from mama, but possibly its second. These days the wildlife officers don’t trap and relocate black bears. It’s extremely expensive to do so, black bears are far from endangered here, and the recidivism rate is quite high, no matter how high in the wilderness they’re released. Bears habituated to humans and residential areas are generally just shot. So in a sense shooting a bear with a pellet gun to give it a nasty sting is doing it a favour, giving it a chance to unlearn its problematic behaviour. But today I just shot this guy with a camera. I’ll give him another chance.

Solstice visitor

6 thoughts on “Solstice visitor

  • June 22, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Ahhhhhhhh, reminds me of our camping trips as a child. We used to follow the bears that came down into camp–not too closely of course, from quite a distance.

    And I like the air pellet gun idea. We are having a pesky rabbit problem here and my husband wants a pellet gun to get rid of them…that bothers me as I don’t want the things killed, but a good sting to scare them off I can handle.

    Seeing that I know little about guns, your post has been most enlightening 🙂

  • June 22, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Bears have really thick hides and are big targets you can hit from 100 feet or so. I think a pellet gun would do a good bit more than just scare a rabbit. I know you can easily kill a squirrel with a pellet, especially since you’re generally shooting from 20 or 30 feet in that case. I’m also not sure, Peter Rabbit and Cottontail aside, that rabbits are actually smart enough to learn from the deterrent effect of this approach. You could try a slingshot, though. They’re fun!

  • June 22, 2007 at 8:52 am

    Oh those 3 yr old bears! They are the most problematic here as the larger/older ones push them out of the main feeding areas and they end up down around the main lodge and cabins looking for food. Just got back to the lodge and dh is exceedingly grouchy because he was up several times in the night scaring off a bear. Here in ON they say it will be the worst year yet for nuisance bears – their population seems to be growing while their habitat is dwindling.

    And never believe that a young bear who may not yet be habituated to humans will be afraid of a small child. In a bear’s mind “might is right” and if he weighs 150 lbs and Sophie is 50 lbs well, he won’t run away from her. I have seen first hand what a young/small bear can do to a young/small human and it isn’t pretty. I would be hesitant to let my kids sleep outside alone, especially without a dog around (MHO).

  • June 22, 2007 at 8:57 am

    S’Okay, Debbie, Sophie knows sleeping out is over for now. Normally we don’t have bears at this time of year, which is why it was allowed in the first place, but she’s indoors again now.

  • June 22, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Oh thank goodness. I was imagining awful scenes here – but I am well known for being a worrywart! Just ask my kids 😉 I have a friend who was attacked by a “small” bear when he was 5. He missed an entire year of school and now, even as we get closer and closer to the age of 40, he still shows a lot of scarring.

  • June 23, 2007 at 10:09 am

    A boy in Utah was just pulled out of his tent and killed by a black bear. Scary!
    But beautiful from far away.

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